Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Powers that BE

Mallorca, Spain 2018
I want to share about a woman I know.  She's an angel to me, beautiful and intelligent, inspiring me with her courage and her heart of gold.  She's one of my closest friends, and I recently got to visit her in Mallorca, Spain.  The story of where she's been before Spain is it's own adventure.  And the story of where we've been as friends is inspiring to me, as it highlights love and acceptance in the midst of diversity.  She and I celebrate authenticity in each other, and in a society where we so often default to putting a certain version of ourselves forward in our relationships, it's nice to have a friendship where we don't have to wear make-up.
Paris, FR 2000
I met Sarah the summer off 2000 in Paris, FR. We were the only Americans studying at the SPEOS photographic Institute. Paris was like a second home to Sarah and she knew the city well. I, on the other hand, had never traveled further than Canada (especially by myself). So when we met, she offered to spend a day with me and take me around the city. We started early in the day, and over several hours we shared our stories of where we're from, how we were raised, etc...  We initially were seeing each other's "make-up," both in the sense that these were our origin stories, but also in that these were the initial layers before you get to the real person.  Sarah tells me she's from upstate NY, while I'm from a small town in NC. She's Jewish; I'm Christian. She's a Democrat; I'm Republican. She's well traveled, speaking English, French, and Hebrew. I've rarely left North Carolina and can barely speak proper English!  Needless to say, on this first day of hanging out, we quickly realized that we were SO different, and we were both secretly eager for the day to be over so we could go our different ways. We ended the day over dinner and a bottle of wine. During this time we shared our hearts, our dreams, our outlook on life. We shared with each our true selves, getting past the make-up.  We’ve been the best of friends since.

We are still very different: lifestyles, religions, politics, etc. We don’t judge, we agree to disagree, and we accept each other as we are.  Sarah and I have never lived in the same state, but we've been there for each other through a lot.  We have seen each other at our best and our worst. Through it all, we’ve seen through all the make-up and have loved each other by focusing on each other’s true self.  

Sarah and I always encourage each other to just BE our true selves. That is why I have titled my new art series BE, of which she is the face of.  Our society is so hyper-focused on the superficial make-up that we put on and display that it’s becoming increasingly harder for our true selves to be seen. We need to encourage each other to just BE who we are and love each other where we are at.  That’s what love does: it shows up and lets you BE.  Love sees you in a good light, even if we're all looking through different lenses.

Miami, FL 2010
What if we lived in a society where we didn’t feel judged by our race, our gender, our sexuality, our religion, our political stance, our looks, our life styles, etc.? What if we truly lived in a “free” country to feel free to just BE who we are where are true selves are seen? That’s wishful thinking, I know. However, like Mother Teresa said, 

“We can do no great things; we can only do small things with great love.” 

If we take the time to truly see each other, we are opening our selves up to great relationships with a lot of love.  If we're not ourselves from the start, how do we know that we're truly loved for ourselves?  

I'm thankful for relationships like my friendship with Sarah. A friendship that held each other up through the sorrows of cancer, that stood by each other’s side while we said our wedding vows.  Sarah's the kind of friend that slaps a guy for saying something inappropriate to me (true story!).  This is the kind of friendship that travels across the world for a hug and says that you're loved for BEing you.
Mallorca Spain, 2018
Love is about letting someone be themselves, and Sarah and I have that in our friendship.  I know that it's changed me, and I hope others will get to have something like this.  I've heard people say that we need to think globally and act locally, as well as to be the change we want to see in the world.  Celebrated authenticity, kindness and boldly being ourselves seems like a great change to BE.

Monday, August 3, 2015

How EMDR changed my life.

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." — C.S. Lewis
It has been several years since I've been inspired to write a blog.   I started this blog when I was fighting cancer in a way to encourage others who struggle, to fight.  Although I'm in remission, there are other battles I'm still fighting.

Anxiety is a disease I have been fighting my entire life.  A disease that has gotten worse over the years.  A disease that has debilitated and tortured me.

The curious thing about anxiety is that it has a lingering quality, so that my battles from my past life reoccur in my present life, over and over again. While that is a life that I'm no longer living, it’s still living in me and will be for the rest of my life.  The past is a life that I cannot change, but I'm learning how to change how it controls me.  This past consists of abandonment, abuse, and disease (you can read about this in previous blog entries).  I once believed that there was no need fighting what this past has done to me, that I should just ignore it and live my life.  The problem was that ignoring it didn’t make me immune to the anxiety that came from it.  Even if I thought I was past my past, I would encounter moments that triggered this past in a way that caused anxiety and even panic attacks.  These moments, while apparently harmless to others, would function as triggers that would give new scenarios all the power of the old feelings of abandonment and abuse.  
Triggers.  This is a word or term rather that I've recently rediscovered, and understanding what is behind this word helps explain how my past has been trying to take the joy and love out of my wonderful life today.  

David Richo speaks on it brilliantly in his book How to be an Adult. "What we leave incomplete we are doomed to repeat.  The untreated traumas of childhood become the frustrating dramas of adulthood.  Our fantasy of the ‘perfect partner,’ or our disappointments in a relationship we do not change or leave, or the dramas that keep arising in our relationships reveal our unique unmet primal wounds and needs."

These unmet primal wounds and needs are the active ingredients of triggers.  An innocent unrelated scenario can feel so familiar to a past trauma, carrying the same bitter taste of danger, anxiety, and pain.   

Richo goes on to say, "The healthy adult can tell the difference between a present conflict with a partner, and a re-stimulation of past unfinished distress.  The strong feelings tip him off to the presence of archaic stimuli.  He acknowledges openly that the feelings are familiar from the past. He takes responsibility for the severity of this reaction, and does not implicate this present person in the tying up of an historical loose end."

So now the question is, how do you become that "healthy adult" when you have been plagued with so much trauma?  How do you disassociate those triggers?  I've been going to therapy off and on for 15+ years.  Therapy has been a HUGE healing indicator for me. It's probably what has kept me sane throughout the years. As well as my faith in the good Lord. And while I was strengthened by therapy, by the Lord, by so much love in my life, the triggers were still there.  They continued to cause me to spiral down an unhealthy, confusing path of intertwined past and reality.  The panic attacks made me feel helpless and caused me to put up major roadblocks with people I love and care about.  The confusing loneliness and weakness of this path was my reality earlier this year.  So what changed?  I started E.M.D.R. therapy.

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a type of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) therapy used to treat patients since the 1980s.   I will try to explain the science behind it as briefly as I can, but I would encourage you to read up on this as much as possible. I've pulled a lot of my resources from a seminar presented by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. called "Contemporary Issues on the Psychobiological Effects of Trauma:  Attachment, Addiction, and Treatments."  

"The Scream" by Edvard Munch
To understand EMDR you must first understand the effects of PTSD. I remember the first time I saw the painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.  I was very young.  I was taken back by it because I physically felt the agony exuding out of the painting.  I just recently realized why I related to this painting so much.  This painting depicts Munch's childhood life of pain and abandonment.  For me, pain and abandonment also colors some of my childhood life. When your story is just beginning and you have a traumatic experience, this becomes a main current in your life.  The idea of trauma happening is so central to the story of your life, it seems like trauma happens to you over and over again -- which brings up the issue of the repetition compulsion.  Once people are traumatized their whole way of being in the world changes.

Bessel van der Kolk said, "I am basically irritated with the definition of PTSD and the way many of my colleagues think that ‘intrusion, arousal and avoidance’ captures the essence of what happens to traumatized people.  I think they're missing the boat because, as I've said, for most people, their trauma becomes a way of life.  Our challenge as clinicians and researchers is how to help people to move from continuously selecting misery to being able to see new things, to position themselves in new ways, and to get a life for themselves.

I have become increasingly discouraged over the past few years, and skeptical that simply talking to someone about your trauma can change your life from being unhappy to being someone who can grasp the life force, or that taking pills can change your brain from causing you to select misery - to being a person who grasps life for what it has to offer. I've become very much more action oriented in developing and organizing programs for our children and adults that will help them understand what trauma has done to them, as well as how to have experiences that actually show them that they can do things differently, and they can feel differently than they did during their early life. "

Munch’s depiction of agony and misery in his paintings makes me think that he never got past his childhood trauma.  I see this false reality in so many people’s lives today. We depict that pain on different levels and in different ways getting ourselves into the same miserable situation over and over again.  Freud said that "the compulsion to repeat the trauma is a function of repression itself.  If a person doesn't remember, he is likely to act it out.  He reproduces it not  as memory, but as an action.  He repeats it without knowing that he is repeating his trauma, and in the end he understands that this is his way of living."  This is PTSD.

Our everyday, "normal" activities are memories stored in the brain as a pre-existing schema.  Traumatic events which create extreme arousal are stored as distinct, episodic details. These traumatic memories are stored in the limbic system which is part of the brain that interprets the emotional valence of incoming information, especially fear or threat. When people who suffer from PTSD are "triggered," their past memories come to life as their current reality instead of memories of their past.  

I am going to be completely vulnerable here, in hopes that it will help to explain this theory from a very personal and real perspective.  When I was a little girl, a man that used to be in our family, would be drunk and lie down in bed with me.  I would wake up to him touching me inappropriately.  Years later, I dated a guy with whom I would sometimes stay the night with. I would be sleeping and sometimes wake up with him on top of me.  This was traumatic for me and was repeated so frequently that it become my reality and the "norm" for me.  I lived with it for a while, resulting in many, many panic attacks, which eventually put me on my death bed in a hospital for a week.  Several years later, I met my God-given husband who knows my story, who is gentle and patient and whom I trust 100%.  My husband is a night owl, always has been, and would stay up way later than me.  When we first got married this became a problem as I would wake up to him just lying beside me and rubbing me in a sweet intimate way, the way loving husbands do.  This triggered my past traumatic memories and would cause me to panic.  I wasn't seeing it as the reality it was, but as my past life of abuse.  We have been together for 10 years now and I have continued to struggle with anxiety during intimacy, until I started EMDR.

EMDR is not solely a process of talking about or talking through your issues.  It is an eight-step protocol referred to as "adaptive information processing."  The goal of this AIP model is to process disturbing past memories to an adapting resolution, thus empowering recipients to learn from them - and move on.  This is accomplished through bi-lateral movements, either eye movements, taps or tones.
EMDR therapists do very little talking while actually processing traumatic memories, but the protocol begins with an extensive verbal and written intake during which a complete history is obtained.  Therapists make sure their clients are stable and have a reliable support system, as well as all the resources needed to complete the eight step protocol including trauma processing.
Once the first steps are accomplished they prompt their clients to think of their disturbing memories one at a time, while doing alternate hemisphere movements.  These movements can be done in three ways; through bilateral eye movements, bilateral tapping or listening to alternating tones.  For the eye movements therapists lead clients with hand movements back and forth from right to left, or by watching a light bar go back and forth.  The taps are done manually as therapists tap the hands or knees of their clients, or the clients hold electronic pulser that buzz alternately from right to left.  The tones may be utilized by wearing head phones and listening to a CD that plays in one ear and then the other.  These bilateral movements help process disturbing past memories while at the same time desensitizing them.

Dr. van der Kolk sums up the normal biology of the brain: 
"The brain is a bilateral organism; we have a left brain and a right brain, just like we have a left ear and right ear, a left leg and a right leg.  We are symmetrical people, but the brain is not entirely symmetrical. The left brain and the right brain are quite different; we basically have two brains. But because we have this huge area in between called the corpus callosum with billions of fibers connecting the two - under ordinary conditions the left brain knows what the right brain is doing, and the left hand knows what the right hand is doing - so the division doesn't matter all that much."

Research has shown that trauma breaks down the bridge between the right and left hemispheres of the brain which is formed by the corpus callosum and thus causes less transfer of information from one side of the brain to the other.  Trauma is stored on the right side of the brain and when triggered the left side of the brain where time and logic are stored "goes offline".  

EMDR helps restore that bridge, so that when triggered, we are able to process past distrubing memories with both our left and right brain, therefore seeing it in a more logical an time-bound way, instead of setting us back into the emotional state of the trauma itself.  EMDR therapists use one of three ways to do this, depending on which one is most comfortable for the client.  However, all three stimulate the brain to reprocess disturbing past memories as the patient mentally recalls them. (An attempt is made to keep the client in the present time by stopping the bilateral movements frequently to check in with clients and ask what thoughts are coming up now.)
I’m not a scientist or a doctor and can’t explain exactly how it works. However, as a victim of PTSD who has done this treatment and experienced miraculous results, I can share that it does indeed work.

Here’s a specific example.  Abandonment is a specific trauma that I experienced as a little girl.  So for years, when I would have a relationship drift away, as relationships often do to all of us,  I would feel abandoned, and rejected, and it would cause me to shut down and even doubt all my relationships.  I did a few EMDR sessions, taking me back to the first time I felt abandonment.  As I focused on those memories, I would watch a light move from left to right, right to left.  More memories came up where I would think to myself, “Well dang, no wonder I struggle with this so much…”  I would leave thinking, “That didn’t help,” and I would feel even more sorry for myself, feeling doomed to always have these traumatic memories. Then the magic happens.  I'm back to reality living my everyday life and I'm not triggered by an unkind comment or action from a loved one, or anyone.  I shake it off and move on.  This is the miracle in it all.  I look back and am shocked by my reaction.  I feel empowered and healed.  Past trauma is no longer controlling my life; I am in more control of my memories and able to enjoy my current life free of trauma.

I started EMDR in January of this year, and I just had my last session in June.  I have not had a panic attack since January and I have weaned off the anxiety medicine that I have been on for 15 years, with very very little side effects.  I’ve had numerous triggers since then, that normally would put me in a panic state, but instead, I'm able to see reality and not be affected by triggers. EMDR has changed my life!

A special thanks to my therapist, Bea Scarlata, for your guidance and care for me these last several months. Her expertise and generous sharing of research on this topic helped my development and eventually inspired me to write this blog entry, which I hope will inspire others to pursue effective healing through EMDR.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hope on the Streets of Africa

It’s been about 2 weeks since returning home from our winter trip to Ethiopia, and I continue to wonder if I’ll have the words to express my perception of the trip. Since being back home, my mind has been all over the place. I have a desire to follow up on our trip, and this is for me as well as for my team and the people we served in Ethiopia. As I’ve been processing this and seeking words to describe it, I’ve also had to take care of myself. As a trip leader, and a wife, and a mother, it’s so hard to put myself first, but pursuing personal strength and wellness is essential for being able to love well and have strong relationships.

That said, just before leaving Ethiopia to return home, I began prepping for a body scan that would help determine the level of progress after last year’s battle with thyroid cancer, thyroidectomy surgery, and radioiodine treatment to kill remaining cancer cells. Prepping for this scan entails a couple weeks of a strict diet, and a handful of daily doctor visits the last days before the scan. During this time, my eyesight has gotten really bad. I became paranoid that it could be because of thyroid related issues or something serious. After visiting the eye doctor and my thyroid doctor, I realized I’m just getting old. Haha! At the end of last week, I got a pair of prescription glasses that have both made me so much more confident with this new ability to see, as well as just aware at how poorly I could see before.

The day I got new glasses was also the day of my body scan, and after the scan, the initial results seemed to be 98% good. They saw a tiny something on the scan where my thyroid once was, and they want to check it out. They wanted to wait til seeing my bloodwork before they decided what to do next. It’s possible that it’s a recurrence of thyroid cancer. However, the spot is so small that even if it is cancerous, they may not do any surgery or treatment, since thyroid cancer usually remains isolated and is slow growing, if it grows at all. People have asked how I feel about this news, and honestly, I don’t know how I feel. I really just want this chapter of my life to be over, so I can start a new, clean chapter. The reality is that this chapter will never be fully over. Since I had cancer, I’ll be at a higher risk of eventually getting it again, compared to people who have never had cancer. I now have to figure out how to live with this part of my story, with hope that cancer won’t return.

Hope is something that I’ve had a really hard time with over the last couple of years. Just when things are going so well, life throws me for a loop. Although I know that I’ve experienced more joy than pain in my life, when I’m in a painful situation, it’s so easy to focus on the damage being done and forget the blessings that I’ve been given. As I reflect back on my trips to Africa, I think about how different our cultures can be when it comes to facing struggles or being blessed. Our perception of hope is so different. The people we have worked with have been through HELL. When I say “hell,” it’s because I cannot imagine anything worse than what they have been through, not even from stories I’ve heard, or movies I’ve seen. They are left physically scarred, but also emotionally scarred. I’m blown away by how these scars contribute to their beauty. When you meet these people, you see so much joy in their eyes, and you wouldn’t imagine that they’ve been through so much. In some cases, one year of their life seems like it is more pain than we’ll ever experience. And after all this, it’s hard to fathom that the hope that you hear in their words. We have so much to learn about how to be grateful, how to trust God, how to have joy, and how to simply have hope.

Two groups of people in Ethiopia teach me about hope: women that have been rescued from a life of prostitution, and young boys who live on the street. In speaking with the women who had been rescued from prostitution, we learned that the need for money drove them to choose such a life. Over 50% of Ethiopians are unemployed. These women are without work, they’re hungry, their children are hungry, they can’t afford medicine, and so they’re family is often sick and dying because of their conditions. Prostitution is their only hope. They wouldn’t do it if they knew some other way. Then you have the street boys. These teenage, homeless boys have either lost their families to AIDS, or they’ve fled the extreme poverty or dangerously abusive situations at home because it’s better for them on the streets. The streets are their only hope. It’s all they have. Because they’re on the streets, local society shuns them, and they don’t expect to get any encouragement from anyone. What kind of life gets to a place where you choose prostitution or living on the street because there is more hope in that than any other option you know? I’m amazed at these women, and these boys, because while I don’t consider them to have anything that I would call a huge “blessing,” they have hope in the simple fact that they are alive.

I’m spoiled. My life has been mostly blessing, and if something interrupts that, I’ve felt like my life is hopeless and coming to an end. It’s ridiculous. Why am I so blind to hope sometimes? Why do I put such a high price on happiness and feeling like I’m blessed? After all, I’m alive… I get to live. In looking back at my time in Africa, I really do feel like God called me there to get closer to understanding the meaning of hope: to see it, experience it, and believe it. After being faced with this reality in others, this decision to have joy and be hopeful, how do I process my struggles? How do I now feel about my body scan test results? It’s easier to be hopeful, to be thankful with the results and feel grateful for the time that is given to me. I’m blessed with so much, and I have hope for a long, beautiful, healthy life with my family and friends. I have hope that I will be celebrating many more years with my friends in Africa. And I’m excited to share my story of hope with others, including my friends in Africa. I aspire to be as encouraging to them as they have been to me.

So, this is me processing things over the last couple of weeks… I feel like I needed to get past some medical struggles, so that I could then more clearly process my time in Ethiopia. I’ll write another blog soon with details from the trip!

Friday, October 15, 2010

God is good: Is He though?

I’ve been struggling lately with the term "God is good". I’ve said it many times. I had cancer, now I don’t. God is good. My brother was shot and left for dead, but is now alive and well. God is good. My friend was infertile, but just gave birth to two healthy twins. God is good. I have SO many of these stories that we give all the glory to God for. Lately though, I’ve been dealing with a broken heart from a situation that has really been a burden on me since I was a little girl. A situation that is like a bad plague that just keeps surfacing and that seems to never go away. This has left me feeling really depressed and hopeless even though God has revealed himself SO many times. I have asked myself recently, is God REALLY good? If so, why were we put in the situation in the first place? Why didn’t He just save us from all the heartache in the beginning? Just recently I have realized that He did.

I’m a part of a Bible study that is studying John 17. We are taking one verse at a time each week. This week’s verse is John 17:5.

“So now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world existed.”

This verse reminds me of how we were made perfect in the image of God before we were even conceived and that He has a perfect plan for us. We might get off track from that perfect plan, put He is there to glorify us and to bring us back to His perfect plan. We just have to trust Him and really have a desire to be glorified.

When God brings us out of such hardships He is glorifying us. He is reminding us that life on earth is not perfect, but our home with Him is. Today was such a huge testimony to that.

I have needed to see a special doctor for a while now, but have not pursued it because of the financial stress we have been under due to me having cancer last year. My situation has been unavoidable lately and so I went to the rector of our church Wednesday to see if I can get financial assistance. Father Jerry was very supportive of my situation and wanted to help. He told me to give him a couple of days and he will let me know how the church can help. Today he called me into his office and said he had a miracle story to share with me. He proceeded with some scripture on how God has his angels looking out for us. Last Friday, before I even mentioned anything to Father Jerry about needing help, he had someone come to him that does not know me and Asher, but knows of us, and said they feel led to give “Missy and Asher Wood” a financial gift. Father Jerry didn’t say anything to me Wednesday because the gift was not finalized yet. This morning it was and so Father Jerry called me in to tell me about it. This gift is enough to take care of my bills for my situation as well as all the bills we accrued from the last year of being sick!

So is God REALLY good? I’ll let you decide. J


Thursday, March 18, 2010


I want to share with you all what Asher and I have been called to do this summer and invite you to be a part of it. This summer, our family will be traveling to Ethiopia to spend two months working with a ministry called Mocha Club that supports various ministries in Africa. We are going to focus on working with street kids, orphans, and women that have been rescued from prostitution. Already, we know that this adventure is bigger than just the two of us, and we hope you will be a part of this journey.


For the last few years, we've given a little each month to Mocha Club to support their efforts in Africa. In the summer of 2008, I went on a two week trip to Ethiopia with Mocha Club (click here to see pictures and click here watch video), and it was a life-changing experience for me, for Asher, and for many. Since then, we've wondered how we can be more involved. In April of 2009, we hosted a well attended art exhibition in Nashville where we increased awareness and raised support for Mocha Club to help out street kids and orphans in Ethiopia. My photos and our paintings were instrumental in pointing to some of the powerful personalities and stories happening there. Since I went to Ethiopia in 2008, we have prayed that we could do more to both engage these people there, and also to create tangible ways to share with others who they are.


As most of you know, last September, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and in the months that followed, I underwent surgery and an arduous treatment of radiation and rounds of medication. The cancer is gone and so much is given to us in its place. This certainly altered our perspective of Africa. Instead of being deterred, we felt strongly that God was creating new meaning in this suffering, showing us the deep wells of love that we have in our community of family, friends, and even strangers. In Revelation 21, God says, “Behold, I am making all things new,” and it seems clear that we don’t grow older every day, but newer. Life is a gift, and it’s an opportunity to love others and to know Jesus, who is Love. So, even through suffering, especially through suffering, we are drawn even more into showing love to these kids in Africa.


From late June until late July, we plan to build relationships with orphans and groups that work with orphans, primarily in the capital city of Addis Ababa. We will serve with these groups, and ultimately, we hope to find ways to integrate art into the daily activities of these kids.

From July 28 – August 23, 2010, we will be leading about a dozen Americans on a mission trip. We'll visit and serve various Mocha Club projects in the area:

  • Women at Risk: This is a project in Nazaret that rescues women from the growing world of prostitution and offers them a 10-month rehabilitation program including social, personal, and spiritual as well as job training. We'll spend time with these women and hear their stories of how this project has changed their lives. We’ll work with them to teach them trades (like knitting and painting and craftwork) so that they can sell their creations and support themselves.
  • Ambo School & Street Boys: We’ll travel to another small town in Ethiopia to visit a church that operates a school for 250 children. We'll also visit a second Mocha Club project supporting the large local street boy population. Our team will organize games/activities and further build the relationship with these boys. We’ll be educating them in various subjects, such as English.


In the last few months, our lives have been changed through our friendship with Melissa Kohne. Melissa and I met in 2008, when they were on the same team that went to Ethiopia. When I was in the last stages of recovering from her cancer medication, our need for help with the kids intersected wonderfully with Melissa's desire to move to Nashville. She initially moved here in January to help out for a month or two, to allow me to get much needed rest. And now she feels like part of the family. Her servant's heart is inspiring, and her parallel calling to Ethiopia makes all of this seem much more possible and effective.


  • April 24th – I am running the Country Music half marathon and raising support that will go towards our airfare.
  • May 20th – Asher and I are showing paintings in a one-night Dallas exhibition, proceeds to go towards our trip to Africa.
  • Asher will be offering half-price portraits between now and June 1st.
  • I will offer to do family photoshoots for a donation: in Nashville during the month of April, and in North Carolina during the first couple weeks of June.
  • We are encouraging our supporters of this ministry, our paintings, and photography to share this cause with others and encourage them to pray for us and even join in these different ways of investing into this journey.


  • More than anything, we need prayer. Some specific prayer needs are listed below.
  • We would love to know that you are praying for us, and we would love to keep you informed of what we are doing so that you can pray specifically for our impact in these communities. Please let us know if we can include you on our email newsletter.
  • We are relying strongly on the financial support from our families and friends to make this happen. The cost of our two-month trip is $12,000. 47% of this is the cost of airfare. So, any donations you could give would be greatly appreciated. See below for more information about making a donation. Also, feel free to be a part of giving to this trip through supporting my half-marathon, our art show in Dallas, or even signing up to get portraits or a family photo-shoot.

Thank you all for reading this far! I hope that our story is coming through here, and that this letter is neither a novel, nor a table of contents. I hope you get the gist of what we are working on now and where we are headed. We know that we will be changed by this experience. We hope to create change in these kids and in you. And we hope that you will step forward with us in this journey.




- That we will be daily transformed by the Lord and useful in our calling to everyone we encounter in Ethiopia.

- That we will be inspired by the Lord to creatively translate our experience to our communities outside of Ethiopia.

- Safety for me, Asher, Gaia (age 3), Presley (age 1), and our friend Melissa.

- That we will trust in the Lord to provide for us in every way before, during and after this journey.


  • If you would like to attend the art show in Dallas, or would like more information about commissioning a portrait, please email Asher at or call him at 615.483.8611.
  • If you would like to schedule a family photoshoot with me, please email me at or call me at 615.390.2120.
  • If you would like to make a tax deductible donation directly to the mission trip, you can mail a check or donate online:

· To mail your donation, please make out a check to “African Leadership” in the amount that you would like to donate. Include with it a short giving note that includes our names (Asher & Missy Wood). And mail these to: 963 Missions, Attn: Mocha Club Trips, 10440 N. Central Espy., Suite 122, Dallas, TX 75231.

· To donate online, go online to, click on the icon to ‘Make a Donation' for the Ethiopia One Month Trip, and fill out the next page with the necessary information.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good Grief

I’ve been meaning to blog for a while now, but haven’t had a chance to sit down and get my thoughts together. I was just inspired by a friend's blog on sorrow to write a blog of my own. So I stopped to think about I’ve been doing since I heard the words, “You are cancer-free”.

What have I been doing? I’ve been grieving.

About a week out of isolation, I was reminded by my doctor and also a therapist that my body and soul just had a traumatic experience. That it is going to take time to get my energy back which requires me to rest…a lot. I just rested for 7 straight days in isolation and without my family. Wasn’t that enough? I’m ready to MOVE ON. To be a mom, a wife, a friend. I’m ready to take care of myself and other people. I can’t. Physically and emotionally, I can’t….at least not right now. That is something I thought I would never have to say and it has depressed me to no end. I had in my mind that after radiation this will all be over and I can go on with my life, keep living my dream, and go after new dreams. I was ready and eager. Two days out of isolation I ended up in the ER because I’m NOT ready…my body and soul needs time to recover. Time that is precious to me as I would know.

For the last month I have bathed in the sorrow of the last year. What a crappy crappy year! Although there were some huge blessings from the year (like the birth of my son!!) all I could think about was the horrible things I had to go through. I became very sad and angry. I cried all the time, I was mean to my family, and just wanted to be alone…for days. It was my time to grieve.

“Unlike the rest of painful human experience, grief is the one that heals all the others. It is the most important pain there is. This is why God calls us to enter into it voluntarily. It heals. It restores. It changes things that have gone bad. It is the only place where we get comforted when things have gone wrong. So God tells us, "Go there."

I am so blessed by a family full of grace and understanding. Over the holidays I had a lot of time to rest, to be alone, and to be down in the dumps while at home in NC. My family took care of me and my kids, and just loved me the way I was. I was afraid to go back home to Nashville, where I would be alone with the kids while Asher is at work, and back in our routine. A routine I am not physically or emotionally able to jump back into. On the drive back home, God solved that problem. My cousin flew in the next day to help me for a week and then my dear friend Melissa moved in for the rest of the month to help.

Since I’ve been back home, I’ve been able to reflect on what God has been teaching me through this time of suffering. He has brought out a lot of things in me that I’ve been hiding from. Character flaws so to speak. ;) Things that I have made my new year resolution to overcome. God has given me courage and strength to believe I can overcome these things. Most of all God has taught me patience. I still have a long ways to go to learn how patience works, but I’m ready to embrace it and just take one day at a time.

So, I've been learning to let today take care of itself. I really want to charge headlong into tomorrow and start doing all that I want to do. I want to run the Country Music 1/2 Marathon. I want to plan my next trip to Africa. I want to work on my "project." and while these are all great things, I will wait. I will rest and listen and let the Lord call me to what He has for me.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back to Bed for Me

Wellllll, all is still good...let me remind you I am CANCER FREE! I love to scream that every time I say it. :) I have had a little set back though. I started to have some body pain the day after I finished radiation. I was at a friend's house the next morning, twisted my ankle and fell, and the pain just worsened. It got so bad throughout the day that I ended up in the ER last night and came home this morning. They ran a bunch of tests and everything looked ok. I have an infection of some sort, maybe the flu. Between that, still coming off of radiation, and all I've been trying to do, my body just couldn't handle it and shut down. I'm in bed for the next 48 hrs. If the pain is not better by Monday I will call my dr. So needless to say, I had to cancel my Help-Portrait project for today. :( We WILL reschedule though!

While typing this I just got a very disturbing harassment call from a number that when we call back it says it's "disconnected". The guy knew my full name and acted as if we knew each other. I called the police to tell them what happened and they said they wanted to send someone over. Of course this was over an hr ago.

Thankfully I have the most amazing friends and community so I've had and still have someone with me at all times to help me and take care of the kids. Asher has tomorrow off...WOOHOO!

Please pray for my body and our protection. I'm not going to lie, I'm freaked out by this idiot that called.